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An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia

Exhibit 8: Is This Guy Nuts?

By Terry Krepel
Posted: 9/12/2000

"Is This Woman Nuts?" read the headline on the Aug. 27 NewsMax story. In it, Attorney General Janet Reno was accused of suffering from "Parkinson's dementia," causing her to, among other things, try to play "When The Saints Go Marching In" on a Caribbean steel drum in her office and playing with a pitchfork.

Disturbing? Not when you consider the writer of the article, Jack Thompson.

Thompson is a Miami lawyer whose greatest claim to fame is leading the crusade that eventually got rapper Luther Campbell convicted of obscenity for his 2 Live Crew album "As Nasty As They Wanna Be." His all-consuming obsession, however, is Janet Reno.

Why? The journal Reason provides the short answer:

    Back in 1988 Thompson was the GOP challenger to Reno for the district attorney's job in Dade County. Thompson's unique campaign message was that Reno was unfit for the job because, as a closeted lesbian with a drinking problem, she was great candidate for blackmail by the criminal element. Jack never explained why this remained a threat even after he exposed her "secret." Reno cruised at the polls.

The group Rock Out Censorship reports that at a public debate during this campaign, Thompson presented Reno with a form demanding she fill it out. It read: "I, Janet Reno, am a 1) Homosexual; 2) Bisexual; 3) Heterosexual." Reno was expected to check an appropriate answer. The form went on to say, "If you don't respond by such a date, then you will be deemed to have checked one of the first two boxes." The group also notes that a Miami DJ obtained a restraining order against Thompson due to harassment.

Over the years, according to Reason, Thompson has traded on his brush with Reno by claiming that blackmail explains her every move. In Dade County, blackmail was behind her handling of child molestation cases. As a member of the Clinton cabinet, blackmail explained Reno's decisions, especially her refusal to appoint an independent counsel to probe campaign finance, Thompson charged.

Thompson's allegations surfaced again in August through the mouth of Ohio congressman James Traficant, as reported in NewsMax. Missing from the story, though, is any reference to the allegations originating with Thompson.

Blackmail also comes to mind when reading Thompson's writings for NewsMax, where he became its "Man in Miami" during the Elian Gonzalez saga. In addition to truckloads of Reno-bashing, he spent a lot of time trashing Kendall Coffey, a lawyer for Elian's Miami relatives, calling him in one open letter (noted previously in ConWebWatch) unfit for the job not only because of past ties to Reno, but because of a little incident involving a stripper.

As Thompson tells it: "You are the man who had to resign as U.S. Attorney because you allegedly bit an exotic dancer, drawing blood, in a notorious striptease establishment called the Lipstik Lounge. It was alleged that in a panic you had a relative sprint back to the Lipstik Lounge and buy the receipt for the champagne you bought for yourself and 'Tiffany' to conceal your presence there. So I will grant you that you do bring to the present case an understanding of the various ways to hide evidence."

Then, speaking as "a lawyer familiar with the ethical mandates of our mutual profession," Thompson demands to meet with the relatives, or else: "I am scheduled to appear today on a national television program to discuss all of the above. Therefore, I would suggest you arrange my meeting with them so that your withholding crucial information from them not be continuing at the time of the broadcast."

Blackmail, apparently, is one of the "ethical mandates" of the legal profession in the world of Jack Thompson.

Not surprisingly, Thompson is a regular at Free Republic, the conservative chat site. He doesn't always get along with them, though; he once started a thread that was, in effect, a veiled threat to sue anyone who insulted him under the cloak of anonymity.

So, what the heck was Thompson talking about in his Aug. 27 NewsMax article? Knowing that Thompson and NewsMax could not be counted on to provide the proper context, a little research of less-biased news sources was necessary. It turns out that Reno was taking reporters on a tour of her offices, which she and her staff are moving out of so the area can be renovated. The steel drums were a souvenir, and the pitchfork was a gag gift from staff members.

Meanwhile, Thompson scowls: "This would be funny if it weren't for the fact that this is the chief law enforcement officer in the United States."

To make his hatchet job on Reno complete, Thompson says (with no evidence to back it up; no reason at this point to take his word for it) that Reno is taking "the mind-altering drug" Sinemet to control her Parkinson's-related tremors. "This drug is known to induce paranoia, hallucinations, depression and a generally unstable mental status," Thompson tells us.

Uh, Jack? You sure you're not talking about yourself here?

My diagnosis: An inspection of Jack Thompson's medicine cabinet.

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